We are very proud to announce that our first podcast, featuring western artist and buckaroo legend Len Babb, is now available. You can find it right here at runningironreport.podbean.com
The cast of players who inhabited the Country Club on a Saturday night only reinforced the notion. Miners, cowboys, truckers, hunters, itinerant singers, Indians, Mexicans, Whites and Basques, we were all drawn to Bruno’s in a kind of marvelous modern rendezvous. It could, and sometimes did, get rowdy.
If you were ever lucky enough to live out on the great sagebrush sea, like I was during a certain vanishing era, you might have enjoyed a slice of old Americana in perhaps the rarest of ways: trailing cattle and working horses. The outback was, in those days–and still is to some degree–a kind of underworld, a parallel universe, richly populated with characters and stories both real and imagined.
Lately I’ve been reading and hearing a lot about toxic masculinity and its destructive effects on individual men, and by extrapolation on society in general.
But what is it?
We can never know, beyond reasonable doubt, who the first european to make contact–in their own territory–with the Plains Indians was, of course, but Elizabeth Fenn, in her excellent book Encounters at the Heart of the World, makes an interesting case for a frenchman named Louis Armand de Lom d’Arce Lahontan, who left a travelogue of his travels from the tip of the Upper Peninsula in Michigan, across modern Wisconsin and Iowa, through Nebraska into the present day Dakotas in 1688–89.
The Mandan, as a nation of people, were hit by numerous waves of smallpox and cholera, whooping cough, measles, and pivotally, epidemics of Norwegian rats that came in on riverboats. At first, the Mandan and Hidatsa, who had never seen a brown rat, were entranced and even happy to have the rats, because they ate the deer mice that had long plagued their earthen lodges.
At any rate, the film meets Dunning at a time when the farm is hanging on a precipice. The farm has given him three wives and four children and taken them all away. He is mostly alone with his memories, his animals, his orchard and his crops, his tractors, and his booze. And despite his impressive strength and agility, his obvious passion and admirable clarity, despite his commitment to life in the midst of a suicidal pique, it is quite clear that the entire existence of Mile Hill Farm, 134 acres of almost mythological New England, is hanging on by a thread in the intense winds of a physical, cultural, and spiritual tempest.
It is no small endeavor to race from sea-level to the mountains, throw on a heavy pack, and start climbing without a minute of real preparation or training–it’s probably stupid, in fact– but purpose is a powerful engine. I had studied the topos, conferred with Don, an accomplished mountaineer, and set my sights on a peak in the 10,000 foot range above the valley. The map is never the territory, of course, so I wasn’t under any illusions about the challenge. I expected, and wanted, a brutal climb as the necessary price of admission.
Here at the RIR Skunkworks we are working hard to bring you not only quality writing and insight, but also a new feature, The Running Iron Podcast. The gear has been acquired, the studio slapped together with ten-penny nails, and we have discovered that audio-engineering is not really our thing.
It occurred to me, as I performed a kind of kabuki dance with the ponderously heavy and awkward bag containing our spike tent, grotesquely dragging it from one corner of the shop to another, that the vows of silence adopted by various religious orders are increasingly understandable
A bill disarming citizens is precisely the kind of nonsense one would expect to be issued from a group of people whose own solutions have been ineffectual since their inception, whose entire history is steeped in fraudulent claims of divinity, by unconscionable wars, slavery, and assassinations, and whose only real purpose from the outset has been to control the minds, bodies, and coffers of others by the precise application of fear backed by the threat of annihilation or eternal damnation.
Living in one place for any length of time supplies a kind of general knowledge, but that tepid way of knowing is often vague to the point of uselessness. I may be able to see and identify, for instance, the particular song of a western meadowlark, and I may thrill at the extraordinary memories it calls forth from my youth on the Great Basin desert, but other than the sound it makes and the emotionally pleasing memories stirred up in my brain, what do I really know about western meadowlarks?